Memorial Day has become a day for picnics, pool parties and the start of summer vacations, but it’s important to remember the holiday has somber roots. Memorial Day was first held on May 30th, 1868, to honor those lost during the Civil War. After the United States’ involvement in World War I, the holiday was expanded to honor all killed in any US war. Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1968, this moved the observance of Memorial Day from May 30th to the last Monday in May. Here are some events and activities in the valley to celebrate Memorial Day and honor those who we have lost.
Flags for Our Fallen
More than 200 bikers with 500 American flags will pay tribute to those who have served our country. Camping is available starting Friday, May 24th. Riders arrive at 4am on Memorial Day; the ceremony will begin at 8am.
Details: 5-9am Monday, May 27th. 23029 N. Cave Creek Road, Phoenix. Free to participate; $10 each or three for $25 to sponsor flags. ridersusa.net
Memorial Day with Pioneers’ Cemetery Association
The Pioneers’ Cemetery Association presents its annual Memorial Day observance with Marty Manning as master of ceremonies. Free public parking available at Wesley Bolin Plaza. After the ceremony, tour the cemeteries and visit the historic Smurthwaite House.
Details: 9am Monday, May 27th. Pioneer and Military Memorial Park, 14th Avenue and Jefferson Street, Phoenix. Free. azhistcemeteries.org
Blue Star Museums Initiative
The Heard Museum is part of this program which offers free admission for active-duty military personnel and their families from May 27th through Labor Day, September 2nd. That includes active-duty Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard and Reserve members and up to five immediate family members.
Details: 9:30am-5pm Mondays-Saturdays; 11am-5pm Sundays. 2301 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. Free to those eligible members; $7.50-$18 for others. heard.org
Prescott Memorial Day Observance
Head up north to Prescott to join U.S. Congressman Paul Gosar, Prescott Mayor Greg Mengarelli and others at the annual Memorial Day Observance at the Historic Citizens Cemetery.
Details: 9-10am Monday, May 27th. Citizens Cemetery, 815 Sheldon St., Prescott. Free. prescott.org